Party leaders clash over Obama as election nears

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Party leaders clash over Obama as election nears
President Barack Obama waves as he steps out of Air Force One upon arriving at JFK International Airport Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama salutes military personnel as he walks down the stairs from Air Force One upon arrival at JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Marine One, with President Barack Obama aboard, leaves JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. The president is in New York to attend fundraisers. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
President Barack Obama, salutes Marines honor guards as he disembarks from Marine One to switch to Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, for a trip to New York City and Greenwich, Conn. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama signs the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama smiles after signing the Improving Medicare Post Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), legislation on quality measures for nursing home and home health patients, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. With him from left are Arilma St. Clair, president of the DC Chapter of the National Assoc. of Hispanic Nurses, Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association President, Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., Jean Moody Williams, CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Deputy Director, and Larry Minnix, CEO and President of Leading Age. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. From left are, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the president and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team and senior staff to receive an update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama speaks at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterrans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington. (Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - Arthur Wilson, President of DVLMF, left, President Barack Obama, Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, Lois Pope Chairman of the DVLMF and Robert Vogel Superintendent , National Mall and Memorial Parks, attend the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
First lady Michelle Obama applauds after speaking at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, where he spoke about the economy. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
President Barack Obama works the rope line after delivering remarks at Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AMERICAN VETERANS DISABLED FOR LIFE MEMORIAL - President Barack Obama, left, greets Lois Pope, Chairman DVLMF during the dedication ceremony of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Washington.(Photo by Sammy Dallal/Invision for American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial/AP Images)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press after a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama met with the national security team and senior staff on stopping the outbreak of Ebola. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama answers questions from the audience during a visit to Millennium Steel Service on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Princeton, Ind. US employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
First lady Michelle Obama and Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke wave during a at a campaign event for Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
FILE - This April 28, 2014 file photo showsU.S. President Barack Obama toasting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, right, during a state dinner at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, following the signing of the Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The Obama administration is still chipping away at its grand plan for a rebalance to Asia that began within months of Obama taking office in 2009, when the U.S. signed a cooperation treaty with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (AP Photo/Francis R. Malasig, Pool)
President Barack Obama greets actor Gary Sinise, right, during the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. President Obama paid tribute to disabled U.S. veterans on Sunday, pointing to the dedication of a new memorial honoring those severely injured in war as a symbol of the nation's perseverance and character. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke during a campaign rally at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 7: First lady Michelle Obama (4th L) greets supporters at a campaign rally for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (R) at the Overture Center October 7, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. First lady Michelle Obama returned to Wisconsin to campaign for Democrat Mary Burke, who is running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the November elections. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
First lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd at a campaign event for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Mrs. Obama rallied young voters in Wisconsin's race for governor, saying if they show up to vote Republican Gov. Scott Walker can be defeated. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Jennifer Beall, founder & CEO of CleanBeeBaby, an eco-friendly cleaning service for strollers and car seats, listens as Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a roundtable discussion with business leaders about the importance of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Biden is on a six-city swing that includes stops in Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington state. (AP PhotoNick Ut)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks to students faculty and staff at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Claiming new momentum 48 hours before polls open across America, Republicans on Sunday assailed President Barack Obama in a final weekend push to motivate voters as Democrats deployed their biggest stars to help preserve an endangered Senate majority.

GOP officials from Alaska to Georgia seized on the president's low approval ratings, which have overshadowed an election season in which roughly 60 percent of eligible voters are expected to stay home.

"This is really the last chance for America to pass judgment on the Obama administration and on its policies," the GOP's 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, said in a message echoed by Republicans across the country on the weekend.

The president has avoided the nation's most competitive contests in recent weeks, but encouraged Democrats to reject Republican cynicism during a Sunday appearance with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.

"Despite all the cynicism America is making progress," Obama said, imploring Democrats to vote on Tuesday. "Don't stay home. Don't let somebody else choose your future for you."

While the elections will determine winners in all 435 House districts and in 36 governors' seats, the national focus is on the Senate, where Republicans need to net six seats to control the majority in the Congress that convenes in January. The GOP already controls the House, and a Senate takeover could dramatically change Obama's last two years in office.

Republicans appear certain of picking up at least three Senate seats - in West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota. Nine other Senate contests are considered competitive, six of them for seats in Democratic hands.

Democratic Party leaders are predicting victory despite disappointing polls.

"I'm very proud of this president," head of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said. "I think we're going to win the Senate."

In New Hampshire, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton headlined a rally for Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat locked in a tough re-election battle against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

Clinton, who is weighing a 2016 presidential bid, charged that Republicans are running a campaign of fear.

"Fear is the last resort for those who have run out of ideas and hope," she said in her first appearance in New Hampshire since October 2008.

And in Georgia, where Democrats see an opportunity to gain a seat in traditionally GOP territory, Republican David Perdue repeatedly called Democrat Michelle Nunn a "rubber stamp" for Obama during a Sunday debate.

Nunn mockingly told Perdue he sounds like he's "running against the president."

"You're running against me, David," Nunn said.

In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall's best hope remains a robust ground game. He made four stops at campaign offices to fire up door-knockers, reminding them, in classic Colorado fashion, to knock on doors before the Broncos game.

"We're going to bring this one home in the next 72 hours," Udall said in the suburb of Centennial, telling volunteers to disregard polls that find him narrowly trailing Republican Rep. Cory Gardner.

While the campaigns' costly voter turnout operations were in full swing, large percentages of younger voters and minorities - groups that typically support Democrats - are expected to sit out the elections altogether.

None of the last four midterm elections drew more than 38 percent of the voting-age population.

Early voting has been strong, however.

At least 16.7 million people have voted so far across 31 states, according to early voting data monitored by The Associated Press. Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Utah already surpassed their 2010 advance totals; party registration is divided about equally among those who have already cast ballots.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cited encouraging polls as he campaigned across Kentucky, where he's trying to hold off a challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

"We expect to win," McConnell said after riding in a Veterans Day Parade. "This election is largely a referendum on the president of the United States. Most people in my state and I hope around the country believe we need to go in a different direction."

The final Sunday before the election was bringing out big names, including some who aren't on the ballot now but could be in 2016.

While Clinton and Obama were on the trail, Vice President Joe Biden campaigned with Florida Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, who's trying to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

"Stand up and show it! Speak up! Vote!" Biden said at a Florida International University event aimed at Hispanic voters.

On the Republican side, former Gov. Jeb Bush, another 2016 primary prospect, campaigned with Scott.

Romney, who reiterated on Sunday that he would not make a third White House run, was campaigning in Alaska with Senate candidate Dan Sullivan and Gov. Sean Parnell.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is expected to enter the 2016 Republican presidential primary, made stops in South Carolina, Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania. And Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was campaigning in Kentucky.

Wasserman Schultz appeared on ABC's "This Week," while Romney was interviewed on "Fox News Sunday."

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